My employer recently posted an opening for a C# Developer with 3-5 years of experience. The requirements and expectations for the position were fair, up until the criteria for salary determination. It was stated clearly that compensation would depend ONLY on experience with C#, and that years of programming experience with other languages & frameworks would be considered irrelevant and not factored in. I brought up my concern with HR that good candidates would see this as a red flag and steer away. I attempted to explain that software development is about much more than specific languages, and that paying someone for their experience in a single language is a very shortsighted approach to hiring good developers (I'm telling this to the HR dept of a software company).
The response: "We are tired of wasting time interviewing developers who expect 'big salaries' because they have lots of additional programming experience in languages other than what we require." The #1 issue here is that 'big salaries' = Market Rate. After some serious discussion, they essentially admitted that nobody at the company is paid near market rate for their skills, and there's nothing that can be done about it. The C-suite has the mentality that employees should only be paid for skills proven over years under their watch. Entry-level developers are picked up for less than $38K and may reach 50K after 3 years, which I'm assuming is around what they plan on offering candidates for the C# position. Another interesting discovery (not as relevant) - people 'promoted' to higher responsibilities do not get raises. The 'promotion' is considered an adjustment of the individuals' roles to better suit their 'strengths', which is what they're already being paid for.
After hearing these hard truths straight from HR, I would assume that most people who are looking out for themselves would quickly begin searching for a new employer that has a better idea of what they're doing in the industry (this company fails in many other ways, but I don't want to write a book). Here is my dilemma however:
This is the first official software development position I've held, for barely 1 year now. My previous position of 3 years was with a very small company where I performed many duties, among them software development (not in my official job description, but I tried very hard to make it so). I've identified local openings that I'm currently qualified for, most paying at least 50% more than I'm getting now. Question is, is it too soon for a jump? I am getting valuable experience in my current position, with no shortage of exciting projects. The work environment is very comfortable, and I'm told by many that I'm in the spotlight of the C-level guys for the stuff that I've been able to accomplish during my short time (for what that's worth). However, there is a clear opportunity cost to staying, knowing now with certainty that I will have to wait 3-5 years only to be capped at what I could potentially be earning elsewhere this year. I am also aware that 'job hopper' is a dangerous label to have, regardless of the reasons.
UPDATE: I've just accepted an offer at another company, paying significantly more and with even cooler projects. Thanks to all for the insightful responses.